As we close out Women’s History Month today, it goes without saying that society would be in a far different place if not for our many Black female ancestors that unfortunately were made out to be martyrs in order to benefit the world at whole.
One prime example of that was the inhumane treatment of enslaved women under the guise of “medical care,” where they were subjected to experimentation by white doctors that specifically didn’t use anesthesia in order to prove that Black people experienced pain differently.
Now, a Black female artist by way of Alabama is honoring the involuntary sacrifices of her ancestors with a sculpture proudly deemed as the Mothers of Gynecology.
Michelle Browder used scrap metal to create three amazing sculptures known as Anarcha, Lucy and Betsey — all three are female representations of the Black women throughout history that were made subject to experimentation. Her interest on the subject was first sparked as a teenager after learning about 19th Century doctor J. Marion Sims. Although known as “father of modern gynecology,” Sims was also a slaveholder that reached his medical peak at the expense of enslaved Black women that he experimented on without anesthesia. Browder’s statue is a direct response to one of Sims that sits on Capitol lawn in Montgomery.
More info below, via NPR:
“These towering mothers built of scrap metal were the cornerstone of a two-day conference in late February centered on Black maternal health inside Old Ship A.M.E Zion Church.
‘There’s so much that people don’t know about,’ says Dr. Veronica Maria Pimentel, an obstetrician gynecologist based in Hartford, Ct., who began a petition two years ago asking those in her field to recognize the contributions of Anarcha, Lucy and Betsey.
‘The history is told from the point of view of those in power and those who were in power were men and those who were in power were also white,’ she says. ‘And we’re talking about women, we’re talking specifically about Black women, and we’re talking about enslaved Black women. So it is important for us to go back and look at this history because the history informs what we’re doing today when we talk about inequalities in health care.’”
While Browder says the statues were “birthed out of pain,” she also acknowledges her intent to make change with them as well, stating, “I wanted to change the conversation about Black women in this country and what we have to contribute and the infant mortality rate, reproductive justice and maternal health. We are in a crisis. And we’re hoping to elevate the conversation.”
The Mothers Of Gynecology statues are represented by a quote Browder chose from Ntozake Shange’s For Colored Girls Who Have Considered Suicide / When the Rainbow is Enuf, which reads, “Let her be born / Let her be born & handled warmly.” See them below:
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